Metronomic vinorelbine is directly active on Non Small Cell Lung Cancer cells and sensitizes theEGFRL858R/T790Mcells to reversible EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors

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Metronomic vinorelbine (mVNR) has been described primarily as an antiangiogenic therapy, and no direct effects of mVNR on Non Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) cells has yet been demonstrated. The aims of this study were i) to establish the direct activity of mVNR on NSCLC cells either EGFR wt or EGFRL858R/T790M, and ii) to quantify the synergism of the combination with reversible EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), investigating the underlying mechanism of action. Proliferation assays were performed on A-549 (wt EGFRhigh), H-292 (EGFR-wt), H-358 (EGFR-wt), H-1975 (EGFRL858R/T790M) NSCLC cell lines exposed to mVNR, its active metabolite deacetyl-VNR (D-VNR), gefitinib and erlotinib for 144 h treatments. The synergism between mVNR and EGFR TKIs was determined by the combination index (CI) in EGFR-wt and H-1975 NSCLC cells. Cyclin-D1 and ABCG2 genes expression and protein levels were measured by RT-PCR and ELISA assays, as well as the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and Akt. Intracellular concentrations of EGFR TKIs and VNR were investigated with a mass spectrometry system. mVNR, and its active metabolite D-VNR, were extremely active on NSCLC cells, in particular on H-1975 (IC50 = 13.56 ± 2.77 pM), resistant to TKIs. mVNR inhibited the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and Akt and significantly decreased the expression of both cyclin-D1 and ABCG2 m-RNA and protein. The simultaneous combination of VNR and reversible EGFR TKIs showed a strong synergism on EGFR-wt NSCLC cells and on H-1975 cells (e.g. CI = 0.501 for 50% of affected cells), increasing the intracellular concentrations of EGFR TKIs (e.g. +50.5% vs. gefitinib alone). In conclusions, mVNR has direct effects on NSCLC cells and sensitizes resistant cells to EGFR TKIs, increasing their intracellular concentrations.

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